The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Siemens Energy Inc. formally commissioned a new 2.3 megawatt (MW) Siemens wind turbine at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center. The turbine is the centerpiece of a multi-year project to study the performance and reliability of a new class of large, land-based machines in what will be the biggest government-industry research partnership for wind power generation ever undertaken.
Under their cooperative research and development agreement, Siemens and NREL will test basic turbine characteristics and verify new performance-enhancing features of the pilot turbine over a minimum period of three years. Testing will include a full range of real-world operating regimens, including severe weather conditions. A new meteorological tower to the west of the turbine will feature more than 60 instruments to collect comprehensive data on wind, temperature, dew point, precipitation and other weather features that can influence the performance and lifespan of a wind turbine.
The Siemens 2.3 MW turbine is among the largest land-based turbines deployed in the U.S. Planned testing includes structural and performance testing; modal, acoustics and power quality testing; aerodynamic testing; and turbine performance enhancements.
Researchers at NREL are also interested in ground support requirements for larger wind turbines, which can weigh 400-800 tons. NREL and Renewable Energy Systems Americas have entered into a separate but coordinated agreement to study the design and performance of turbine foundations, with the aim of increasing the reliability of non-turbine components and reducing turbine installation costs.
The new turbine and other new projects underway at the National Wind Technology Center also allow NREL to take a significant step forward in generating its own clean electricity to accomplish the laboratory’s aggressive sustainability goals, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the energy needs of NREL’s expanding campus. The DOE, NREL and Xcel Energy have an agreement for surplus energy to be exported and sold to the local utility grid.
For more information, visit the NREL wind website at www.nrel.gov/wind